Climbing: From Rock to Ice, by Ron Funderburke

Gearflogger reviews Climbing  From Rock to Ice  by Ron FunderburkeMost, maybe all, ice climbers start learned to climb on rock. It just makes sense, since learning to climb is intimidating enough without the added stress of more and more complicated gear, freezing temperatures and a climbing surface that can change by the day. Ron Funderburke is eminently qualified to guide us through making the rock to ice transition, having penned guides on various other climbing transitions such as gym to rock, toproping to sport, and sport to trad.

Climbing: From Rock to Ice is a small-format book, 4.5×7 inches, and slim at about 150 pages. The text and photos feel a bit small and cramped, but for a very low price you're getting a lot of good information. Funderburke covers the usual areas of technique and gear as well as strategy and tactics, such as route planning. Energy management is a theme that runs through the book, appropriately enough given the generally more cautious approach ice climbing demands from a climber.

We really liked the chapter on interpreting ice, which is a big part of ice climbing that starts the minute you lay eyes on the route. This is probably the area that most new-to-ice climbers will need to work on, as evaluating ice is significantly different from evaluating rock routes. There's also a nice appendix on sharpening crampons and ice tools.

A few areas that could have used more attention: first, the topic of ice screws. We'd like to have had a more detailed treatment of materials (titanium is not mentioned), the use of the speed handle versus not having one, the use of particularly short and long screws, angle of placement (many people want to place a screw slightly down, which is weaker than slightly up) and how to sharpen your screws. A second area is the fundamental movement technique on steep ice, tracking, which could also have used more detail and a more clear sequence of photographs, as well as a comparison with the old square technique. Finally, the v-thread anchor is mentioned only in passing at the end, but in our opinion it's a skill that every ice climber should practice up front just in case they need it.

Perhaps a future edition will move to a larger format with expanded photographs and more advanced topics, but for now Funderburke's book is meant as an overview and introduction and it succeeds at that. At the low price point there's no reason not to have it in your collection.

$11.60 at Amazon



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